April 4, 2012

Made It Moment: Thomas Knight

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:06 am

The Time Weaver

I met today’s author, Thomas Knight, during a writing contest, which became an important part of both our writer’s journeys–although neither of us won nor even advanced particularly far. That’s what I love about this writing world. Often it’s not the door we were banging on the hardest that opens, admitting us to someplace wonderful. Happy birthday to Thomas (yes, today is his birthday) and happy birthyear to his novel, THE TIME WEAVER. Thomas has forged his own path as a writer–and perhaps ultimately that’s the deepest form of making it there is.

Thomas Knight

I’m not a writer.

But I’m different from most people. I strive to challenge myself. I seek out ways to break out of my comfort zone. I march to the beat of my own drummer, because what better way is there to ensure you’re listening to the right music?

I wrote The Time Weaver as a personal challenge. I spent almost twenty years telling myself I couldn’t do it. Little did I know, the only thing holding me back was me. 100,000 words is a lot of words, especially for somebody who is not quite as tuned in to the English language as the average person. I’ll admit it, while I was scoring straight A’s in every other subject, I was a C-student in English studies.

So I wrote it. Edited it. Edited it again. Had a friend edit it. Had my wife edit it. Edited it again. Man was this a long journey. And finally, a year after I started writing my first book, I self published it, and joined the ranks of many thousands of other indie authors out there. And how did I fare? Did I make it?

I sell more than the average indie author, but not enough to say I have fantastic sales. My Amazon sales rank appears to have fallen into the nosebleed section as of late. But what is the true test? How do you gauge if you’ve truly “made it” or not?

Reviews. That was my test. All the sales in the world don’t matter to me if people aren’t enjoying it. I want people to read it, yes, but I want them to enjoy it as well. Because what are authors but entertainers?

I received an unsolicited review the other day, from a fairly well-ranked reviewer: “Many times I made false assumptions where the story was headed and was pleasantly surprised right up to the end. … The story is constantly moving forward with a breath-taking pace.” I’m still reeling from what was one of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten. He bought it. He read it. He enjoyed it.

Mission Accomplished: I made it.

Thomas A. Knight has spent most of his life either immersed in or building fantasy worlds and bringing characters to life.

From Middle Earth, to the skies of Pern and beyond, no world is too great a challenge for him to conquer. His favorite places include a pair of worlds that spawned from his own imagination, one of perpetual light, and one of perpetual darkness.

When he is not living a life in one of these worlds, he is a husband, father of two little girls, software developer, and avid role-player. He grew up and currently resides in a small town in Ontario, Canada. He works as a software developer at one of the world’s leading vinyl siding manufacturers.

April 1, 2012

Who Needs Foodies When You Have Bookies?

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:12 am

No, not those kind of bookies,the ones who appear in noir novels and tend to tie concrete blocks to their clients’ ankles.

This is a new use of the term.

I thought of it after reading an article in New York Magazine about how foodie-ism has become cool for the twenty-something, hipster set. To paraphrase journalist Michael Idov, donburi and pickled lamb tongues are in. So is spending 25% of one’s paycheck on food.This is not your parent’s golf game or night at the opera.

Hey, I love food as much as the most avid New Yorker. Some have accused me of squandering my children’s college funds on a pint of organic raspberries. But what I really spend money on is books. And while foodie-ism seems to me to hit heights of the ridiculous–saffron foam? bee pollen soot? really?–in much the same way that runway fashion does, books and bookstores seldom do. (Snookie’s advance aside).

Bookstores are places of conversation and stimulation and exchange sufficient to make the most tech-easy twenty-something, who’s able to chat with seven friends at the same time, wide-eyed at the riches. If you look at some of these photos, I think you’ll agree that a bookstore is a pretty cool place to be.

I’d like to see young people, old people, in between people pouring into bookstores the way they pour into restaurants or other sites of leisure.

Make your next date night at a bookstore. It’s cheaper than two movie tickets, and you actually get to take something home. A great way to get to know the guy or girl you’re with, or reconnect with a spouse, is observing what volumes they pick up, and which they walk away with. Over your dinner doused with bee pollen foam, you can talk about your new purchases.

I co-host a writing series at a wonderful independent bookstore, and we try to make our events an awful lot like a party. Food, wine, conversation, mingling after the panel discussion, and of course, books. People have met agents there, editors who want to see their manuscripts, and made writing friends for life.

Because you can have your rosemary biscotti or other foodie treat in a bookstore. Many of them have cafes, and one thing I predict more of is that these cafes will start being destinations of their own, serving not lumpen, over-sweet pastries made elsewhere and shipped in, but delicacies unique to that bookstore’s region.

Perhaps the bookseller will have a friend who’s always wanted to bake  pastries and the two will marry their businesses (as takes place in author Maryann McFadden’s soon-to-be-released novel about a bookseller and a writer). Or perhaps a restaurant will move in close enough to be kissing cousins with the bookstore-next-door as you have at the great Left Bank Books and Tap House & Wine Bar in St. Louis.

The perfect convergence of trends–social communion, local, homespun food, and deep thinking–can take place at a bookstore in a way that makes them much more than trends.


Lived at a bookstore.

How hip is that?

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